Japan TBS commentator Kazuhiro Sasaki, who relayed the World Baseball Classic (WBC) 1st round Korea-Japan match on the 10th, said, “The Korean national team has changed from before. In the past, the Korean lineup gave a lot of pressure,” he said. In Japanese baseball, he was called the ‘Great Demon God’ and competed with Seon Dong-yeol for the title of salvation king.
To Sasaki, the Korean national team that competed in the 2008 Beijing Olympics (gold medal) and the 2009 WBC (runner-up) must have been quite impressive. Table setters such as Lee Jong-wook, Lee Yong-kyu, and Jung Geun-woo, and the center liners with power and technique, such as Lee Seung-yeop, Lee Dae-ho, and Kim Tae-gyun, harmonized. In the lower batting line, players with excellent defense and runners were placed.
The Korean lineup in 2023 that Sasaki saw was different from the past. MLB players such as Tony Edman and Kim Ha-seong took on the first and second positions. Those who played in the big leagues in the past, such as Park Byeong-ho and Kim Hyun-soo, formed the center line. The weight of the other line does not drop compared to the past.
However, the Korean batting line seemed to have nine key hitters. When it was difficult, it was difficult to see him breaking through the bow and striking a difficult opponent. Everyone took a big swing with strength in their shoulders. Their strength and technique could not match the Japanese pitchers.
The difference felt on the mound was similar. Gwak Bin, Jeong Cheol-won, Kim Won-joong, Lee Eui-ri, and Jung Woo-young, who were relief pitchers in the game against Japan, threw fast balls of around 150 km per hour. But the pitch was a mess. While throwing a ball that was far out of the strike zone, the ball that was forcibly pushed in was hit.
Korea has been actively benchmarking the MLB since about 10 years ago. Sabermatrix (analyzing baseball with statistical and mathematical methods) was accepted as the absolute truth of baseball. Longing for the power and speed of the big leagues, he devoted himself to building muscles. Rival Japan believed that it could win through force. In the past, the Japanese coaches who had a few on each team in the KBO League had almost disappeared. That’s how Korean baseball crossed the Pacific Ocean.
In the meantime, several beeps sounded. The deterioration in the quality of the KBO league, especially the technological regression, was pointed out. International competitiveness has been steadily declining, but the WBC called ‘Baseball World Cup’ has not been held for 5 years since the 4th tournament in 2017. The current address of Korean baseball was confirmed at the 2021 Tokyo Olympics (4th place).
The ‘Samurai Japan’ I met again had become a giant. Not to mention big leaguers such as Shohei Otani (1m93cm) and Yu Darvish (196cm), as well as young players in the Japanese league. Looking at Rocky Sasaki (1m90cm), who threw the top speed of 164km, and Munetaka Murakami (1m88cm), who exploded 56 home runs last year, the power gap was felt even wider.
At the 2009 WBC, Japan felt awe at the size of Bong Joong-geun, Lee Dae-ho, and Kim Tae-gyun. Japan and Korea, which had the world’s best technicians such as Ichiro Suzuki and Daisuke Matsuzaka, were two different teams. At that time, Japan won the championship after a fierce battle with Korea with 3 wins and 2 losses.
Baseball in Japan today is also different from then. A Japanese official said, “Around 2000, the aces of each Japanese team boasted a command that was close to divine. I played around the border line with a ball around 145 km per hour.” “Since then, Japan has also gained strength by introducing the MLB training and fostering method. Even if one or two balls (7 to 15 cm) come into the zone, he is overcoming the batter with power. It is stable because we have developed power on top of solid basics.”
The gap between Korea and Japan baseball widened even more right here. In a situation where the pitcher’s control and hitter’s contact were not secured, Korea only competed for power within the KBO league. Ryu Hyun-jin became the top class in the MLB thanks to his elaborate command. we overlooked that I was just trying to increase my strength. The KBO League has become a ‘lower version’ with skills and characteristics similar to MLB. Sasaki’s words, “Korean baseball has changed,” can be understood in this way.
Lee Jeong-hoo, who hit the best ball among Korean hitters, said, “I don’t know when my baseball life will end, but I think I will keep thinking about it. He said, “(Still) it was good to hit the first ball in my life. Certainly, the pitch of the Japanese pitchers was good. It is a ball that has not been seen in the league.”
Korea lost 4-13 against Japan despite pouring 10 pitchers. The result of the rivalry, which is well known worldwide, seems to have surprised even foreign reporters. At a press conference on the 12th, an MLB.com reporter asked Lee Kang-chul, coach of the Korean national team, “Do you have any messages to the young bullpen pitchers after the game against Japan?” Director Lee said, “These players should grow and lead Korean baseball in the future. I hope it will be an opportunity to look back on yourself and draw a future.”
Korean baseball was complacent.스포츠토토 Intoxicated with Beijing and the WBC special, he neglected to challenge and study. The Korea Baseball Organization (KBO) and 10 clubs also thought that they could follow MLB. In the winter, large contracts worth billions of won broke out. In the meantime, the lower body (basic skills) is weak, but only the upper body (muscles) have grown, unbalanced baseball has settled in the KBO league.
The ‘disaster’ of Korean baseball is not the first time in Tokyo. At the 2003 Asian Baseball Championship and the 2006 Doha Asian Games, Korea’s elite professional team was completely defeated. Each time, he used the crisis as an opportunity to rise again.
Can Korean baseball rebound as quickly as before? can’t be sure of that It’s because the basics are weaker than then. What is the path for Korean baseball, which headed to the U.S. proudly claiming that it was worth playing against Japan? This is an issue that all members of the league should consider. If you get lost in the Pacific, there is nowhere to dock.